Jose Mourinho lauds inspirational Manchester United striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic

Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho believes Zlatan Ibrahimovic was the key to breaking Sunderland down in the Premier League on Sunday.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic was Manchester United's inspiration as they swept aside 10-man Sunderland at the Stadium of Light, manager Jose Mourinho said.

Ibrahimovic opened the scoring with his 28th goal of the season by arrowing home a brilliant strike and the Swede later set up Marcus Rashford to cap a 3-0 Premier League victory.

Henrikh Mkhitaryan also on target early in the second half as United extended their unbeaten run to 21 games in the top flight.

Mourinho felt the magic provided by Ibrahimovic - who has hit nine goals in his last eight Premier League appearances away from home - helped his side get on course for a good result before Sebastian Larsson's red card made Sunderland's task even tougher.

"It was open at 0-0," Mourinho told Sky Sports. "We were in control without danger. 

READ MORE: Man United keep top-four hopes alive with Sunderland win

READ MORE: What we learned from the Chinese Grand Prix

READ MORE: Has Messi demanded Barca sign a list of stars?

"We were playing quite compact and solid. You need these players to break it. Every team has a couple of them. Zlatan did that. 

"We felt the game was in our pocket. In this beautiful weather the game was played at a more slow intensity."

Mourinho felt it was important for United to collect all three points after the Premier League's top four all won on Saturday, admitting that a first-half goal was vital in giving them control against their "sad" opposition.

"The result was good," Mourinho said. "We resisted the results of yesterday when Manchester City and Liverpool won, they left us in a position of 'yes' or 'no'. It was 'yes'. 

"We got three points and it was a solid display. It was against a team that is sad, it's normal. Against a team that is sad, if you score before then it's difficult for them to react.

"You could feel the negative feeling around the team. That is felt with a team close to relegation."

By using Yahoo you agree that Yahoo and partners may use Cookies for personalisation and other purposes